Ecocentricity Blog: It Is Hereby Resolved

By: John A. Lanier
Jan 2, 2019 9:30 AM ET

When I was reflecting on what my resolution would be this New Year, it dawned on me that saying no is also a good environmental resolution.


We all make small talk. It’s hard not to, especially during the holidays. With all of the events, work parties, and family gatherings, I expect we all find ourselves having five-minute conversations with people we socialize with only a couple times a year. It’s just the nature of things.

Even though small, the talk can still be sincere. I found myself having a frequent conversation this past month, usually in response to some version of “how’s it going?” My answer was usually, “Good! It’s been the busiest year I’ve ever had, but the best one too.”

That’s the honest truth. Through my work at the Foundation, I’ve had some tremendous opportunities in 2018 that have taken me far and wide. Chantel and I had plenty of personal highlights, ranging from buying a new all-electric car (we turned in a leased Nissan Leaf and bought a new Chevy Bolt) to getting my younger brother married this past weekend (congrats Patrick and Stephanie!). On top of it all, we adopted our daughter Cecilia in April and got accustomed to parenting two young children. Our year was crazy, but we wouldn’t trade a thing.

All the same, I’m beginning to feel the tension that I’m sure so many of us feel when time becomes a precious commodity. Saving time for the things we love to do requires us to say no to many things we want to do (and many we don’t want to do). And saying no is hard.

That’s the resolution that I am bringing in to 2019. I will say no more, because I want to do less. If that means I say no to any of you who ask for my time, please don’t take it personally! It just means I miss my family, and reading a book at night, and perhaps playing a board game every now and again.
When I was reflecting on what my resolution would be this New Year, it dawned on me that saying no is also a good environmental resolution. Too often, we think that being a good environmental steward means saying yes to something. Examples include recycling, replacing incandescent light bulbs, installing a low-flow toilet, slapping solar panels on your roof, and getting your own electric car (you won’t regret it, I promise!). Those are all good things to say yes to.
But many times, simply saying no can be much easier and just as impactful. By saying no to disposable shopping bags, the elevator in favor of stairs, single use plastic straws, businesses with poor sustainability efforts, and cheeseburgers every now and again, we are being good environmental stewards. All it takes is the willingness to be informed about environmental impacts and the discipline to say no.
So if you haven’t made your mind up yet about a resolution for this coming year, perhaps you can consider joining me in mine. Let’s say no. I bet we’ll be glad we did.

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Valerie Bennett
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
+1 (770) 317-5858